Update: Dead whale dragged out to sea ‘to let nature take its course’ after washing into Port of Felixstowe
09:39 07 May 2014
A whale carcass that washed up on the Suffolk shoreline has been dragged back out to sea “to let nature take its course”.
The whale, thought to be a northern bottlenose, was discovered at Felixstowe port yesterday morning in a badly decomposing state.
A spokesman for the Port of Felixstowe said that it had been taken back out to sea this afternoon “to let nature take its course”.
“One of the port’s tugs was charged to drag the carcass back to an area in the open sea where it couldn’t be washed back in and could decompose naturally,” the spokesman added.
Onlookers at a nearby cafe said they saw “something large” being pulled out to sea at around 2.30pm.
Experts from the University of Southampton, who were sent photographs of the whale, said the fin was too far back to be a killer whale and suggested it may be a northern bottlenose.
The species made headlines in January 2006 when an immature female strayed up the Thames as far as central London.
The disorientated creature spent several days in the river while vets and marine biologists attempted to coax it out to the safety of deeper waters. Eventually, the whale was lifted onto a barge to be transported out into the estuary, but died before its release.
Another young northern bottlenose was put down in 2007 after beaching itself under the Orwell Bridge near Ipswich.
Marine experts said the whale would have died of starvation and dehydration had it not been put down to end its suffering.
In March 2013,four dead porpoises washed up in Felixstowe over the space of a month.
The Natural History Museum is the lead authority in identifying the species of whale carcasses washed ashore in the UK.
A museum spokesman said there were “no set procedures in place” to deal with beached whales, but “an overall strategy” involving institutions such as the British Museum and the Zoological Society of London.